The Great British Bake Off is one my favorite shows, inspiring new bakes, new flavors, and new techniques! Join me on my journey to bake through all the Season 13 Challenges.
Since replicating Season 8 of the Great British Bake Off wasn’t enough, I decided to try my hand at a different season! This time, I am working on season 13 which is the most recent season! This season had some great bake ideas as well as some not-so-great ones (but we’ll get there when we get there).
So, I figured, let’s do this all again! One of the big challenges I wanted to attempt this time around was coming up with original ideas for the signature and showstopper challenges instead of doing a recreation. On your mark… Get set… Bake!
The technical challenge for bread week made me a little confused. It was time to make pain aux raisins. I feel like this challenge is more pastry than bread. But I will never say no to making some pastry. I have found it to be an odd love of mine.
Pain aux raisins are a made of a flakey pastry with a crème pâtissière and raisin and orange filling which is topped with an orange icing. They were a surprisingly sweet pastry given all the add-in. Again, an unexpected result for bread week.
Check out the Season 13 Great British Bake Off Page to see other bakes from this series or the Make section for more recipes! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think and how the recipe works for you!
For what seemed like a relatively straight forward pastry, there was a surprising amount of ingredients needed to make pain aux raisins. Most of the ingredients are typical staples to a kitchen but I did need to find cornstarch, vanilla bean pod, raisins, and an orange.
I guess I don’t normally have these in my kitchen, so I did have to make sure to pick them up on when I was shopping for groceries. I was lucky to find vanilla bean pods in my local grocery store but they can also be sourced online if need be.
Making the Dough
The dough for the pain aux raisins is the first thing I wanted to tackle in this process because it takes some time. There is a lot of chilling and folding and chilling and folding. It’s a bit of a repetitive process but there is something about the repetitively that I find very soothing.
But first, the dough needs to come together. In a large, heat proof bowl, I rubbed some of the butter into the flour to create a crumb like texture. Then I added in the rest of the dry ingredients (sugar, yeast, and salt). I set the bowl aside to move onto the wet ingredients.
In a small bowl, I whisked the milk, warm water, and egg together. I wanted to make sure the ingredients were fully combined, so I made them good and frothy. Then the wet ingredients were poured into the dry ingredients. The dough should come together at this point.
I kneaded everything together for about five minutes and ended up with a sticky dough at the end. It did not stick to my hands, but the dough was sticky to the touch. I wrapped the dough in plastic and put it in the fridge to chill.
Creating a Butter Block
While the dough was chilling, I decided to make my butter block. Since pain aux raisins are a pastry, we are going for the full puff pastry method. My favorite method of making a butter block is squishing the butter together before rolling it out. I find that this makes a more even pastry and doesn’t easily allow for air pockets.
This step can be a bit noisy as I used a rolling pin to repeatedly hit the butter. I guess it’s kind of good for aggression as well! Parchment paper was my best friend when making a butter block. It keeps the butter contained and can help shape the butter into a nice rectangle.
Folding and Rolling or Rolling and Folding
Once the dough and the butter bock have chilled sufficiently, they need to be combined. First, I rolled out the dough to be approximately 50-cm by 20-cm in size. I placed the rolled-out butter block to cover two thirds of the dough, aligned on one of the 20-cm edges.
The dough not covered by butter was folded over the butter. And then the part of the dough that still had exposed butter was folded over the center as well. Like folding a letter. I pinched the edges of the dough together to completely encapsulate the butter. I didn’t want it slipping out through the cracks.
It was hard to resist the temptation to immediately roll out the dough. But I wrapped the whole bundle and put it back int the fridge to chill for about twenty minutes. Then I brought the dough out and rolled it out to another 50-cm by 20-cm square and folded it like a letter once again.
After one more wrap and chill, the dough for the pain aux raisins was ready to go and was waiting on the filling.
I am not the biggest fan of crème pâtissière. It’s a pleasant addition to some desserts but I never understood using a custard as a topping. So, when I saw the pain aux raisins required a crème pâtissière, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic. But then I saw that the crème pâtissière was on the inside of the pastry. And I was intrigued.
To make the crème pâtissière, I started by whisking together sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, and milk. I wanted to whisk until the color of the ingredients had turned pale. I like using a stand mixer for this process, but this can easily be done by hand. Laziness is built into my very core.
Then, in a small saucepan, I boiled the remainder of the milk on the stove. I added the seeds from the vanilla bean pod to the milk while it was cooking (check out lessons to see how to handle a vanilla bean pod).
I never really like bringing milk to a boil, so I always get it as close as possible. Continuous stirring is required to prevent the milk from burning in the pot. After the milk has reached the boiling (or almost boiling) stage, I poured it into the egg mixture while continuously mixing.
The stand mixer really helps with the continuous whisking aspect of this step. Whisking is required to prevent the eggs from cooking. Curdled crème pâtissière is not pleasant.
The whole mixture went back on the stove and was cooked until the mixture thickened. This can happen relatively quickly, so I recommend watching it like a hawk. Then the crème pâtissière should cool to room temperature before going into the fridge to chill.
Creating a Filling
Creating the filling is the easiest step of this whole process. I put the raisins, cinnamon, and orange zest into a bowl. I used a spoon to mix everything together. That’s it. Could I have included this in another section? Yes. Do I find it funny to make a section for one sentence? Also, yes.
Assembling the Pain Aux Raisins
The last step in making pain aux raisins is putting them together. I took the dough out of the fridge and rolled it out into a 50-cm by 20-cm rectangle and folded it into thirds. Then I rolled it out into a 30-cm by 30-cm square.
The crème pâtissière was then spread out all over the dough. I tried to leave a 2-cm border around the edge so the crème pâtissière has some room to move later. Then I sprinkled the filling on top of the crème pâtissière.
Gently, I rolled the dough up into a log. This made a swirl out of the dough, the crème pâtissière, and the filling. The log was cut into twelve pieces. Each piece was placed on a baking sheet and left to prove for about an hour (or until doubled in size).
Then the pain aux raisins went into the oven! And while they cooked, I made up an icing by mixing powdered sugar and orange juice. When the pastries came out of the oven, the pain aux raisins needed to fully cool before the icing could be drizzled on top.
Pain aux raisins are a delicious pastry that felt like a great companion to a strong black tea to balance out of the sweetness. They were delicious even if they were not my exact type of pastry.
The looks of them was stunning although I could have done a better job of keeping them more evenly shaped. The process is something I just find to be a lot of fun. But I also really do love making pastries, so I guess I’m a little more biased in this arena.
How to Handle Vanilla Bean Pods
It did not occur to me that vanilla bean pods would have a special way to handle them. But I was not the first person in my house to work with vanilla bean pods so I had some extra knowledge on hand.
To start, flatten the bean pod with the side of a knife. Then cut the pod in half, lengthwise, to expose the inside. The seeds will be on both sides. Using the back of a knife, scrap out the seeds from the inside.
If you don’t have anything to do with the pod, throw it in a bowl of sugar and let it sit for a few days to get the sugar infused with that vanilla flavor!
Pain Aux Raisins
Pain Aux Raisins
- 2 ½ Cup Bread Flour
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter cubed
- 2 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
- 2 Teaspoon Dry-Active Yeast
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Cup Whole Milk
- 3 Tablespoon Warm Water
- 1 Egg plus 1 egg beaten for glaze
- 3 ½ Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
- 2 Egg Yolk
- 2 Tablespoon Cornstarch
- 1 ⅛ Cup Whole Milk
- ½ Vanilla Bean Pod split with seeds scraped out
- 1 Cup Raisins
- ¼ Teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 Orange zested
- 2 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 Orange juiced
- Rub 2 tablespoons of cube butter into the flour. Add caster sugar, yeast, and salt. Mix until combined.
- In a separate bowl, beat milk, warm water, and egg.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix. Knead for 5 minutes until the dough comes together. The dough should be slightly sticky.
- Wrap in plastic and chill for one hour.
- Flatten the remaining butter into a rectangle (measuring approximately 33-cm by 19-cm). Let chill until the dough is ready.
- Unwrap the dough and roll out into a 50-cm by 20-cm rectangle. Layer the butter on top of the dough so it covered two-thirds of it starting at an edge. Fold the exposed dough over the butter. Fold the remaining exposed butter over the center with the dough covering the tip. Pinch the edges of the dough to seal in the butter (no butter should be exposed). Wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
- Roll out the dough into a 50-cm by 20-cm rectangle. Fold one third of the dough over the center and repeat the with remaining on third to make a rectangle about 17-cm by 20-cm. Wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
- While the dough is chilling, make the crème pâtissière. Whisk together the sugar, egg yolk, cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of milk until pale.
- Gently heat the remaining milk with the vanilla seeds in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Pour hot milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk until combined.
- Return crème pâtissière to the pan and put over low heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture has a custard like texture. Let cool and then chill to set.
- In a small bowl, combined raisins, cinnamon, and orange zest. Set aside.
Pain aux Raisins
- Roll out the dough into a 50-cm by 20-cm rectangle. Fold into thirds. Roll out into a 30-cm by 30-cm square.
- Spread the crème pâtissière over the dough, leaving a 2-cm border around the edge of the dough. Sprinkle the filling mixture evenly over the crème pâtissière.
- Roll the dough into a log and cut 12 slices. Place each slice approximately 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Cover and let prove for 1 hour at room temperature or until doubled in size.
- Heat oven to 425° Fahrenheit.
- Brush each pastry with a beaten egg and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.
- In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of orange juice.
- Drizzle over the cooled pain aux raisins pastry.
- Let icing set before serving.